Newcastle vs Nottingham Forest predictions: Bruno to the rescue for Toon

Simon Barlow
Spotlight
Eddie Howe will be looking for inspiration from Bruno Guimaraes on Saturday
Eddie Howe will be looking for inspiration from Bruno Guimaraes on Saturday

A real sense of occasion surrounds Saturday's clash between nouveau riche Newcastle and Championship play-off winners Nottingham Forest, who will make their long-awaited top flight return in front of 52,000 at St James' Park. 

Both clubs were pretenders to the Premier League crown in the 1990s, with Forest finishing third in 1994-95 and Kevin Keegan's Magpies famously pipped to the title a year later. 

There have been changes in ownership, management, ambition and status in the intervening years with both clubs suffering relegation and celebrating promotion. 

All the nostalgia will be put aside at kick-off when Eddie Howe's team attempt to make their wealthy backers proud and Steve Cooper's band of merry men plot a roadside robbery. 

Team news

Howe revealed on Friday that Jonjo Shelvey, who suffered nerve damage in his hamstring during the Eusebio Cup defeat to Benfica last week, is still under assessment. 

Defenders Jamal Lewis and Federico Fernandez are not quite back in full training, but Javier Manquillo has been able to return to the Darsley Park grass. 

The Magpies have spent around £55m this summer on Lille defender Sven Botman, Burnley keeper Nick Pope and a permanent deal for Aston Villa full-back Matt Targett - with all three set to start. 

Botman and Targett are due to be joined by Fabian Schar and Kieran Trippier in a balanced back four that would see club captain Jamaal Lascelles denied a chance to face his former club. 

Forest have so far made 11 first-team additions of their own in the aftermath of promotion and Cooper is expected to hand debuts to at least five. 

Neco Williams and Harry Toffolo will provide the width as wing backs with Lewis O'Brien slotting into the centre of the Welshman's 3-4-1-2 formation. 

On-loan Manchester United keeper Dean Henderson will start in goal with ex-Old Trafford colleague Jesse Lingard likely to play behind a front two of Brennan Johnson and Sam Surridge. 

But record signing Taiwo Awoniyi was only on the bench against Valencia in the Reds' final pre-season friendly and may have to settle for a role as an impact substitute. 

The stats

Newcastle won seven of their final eight at St James' Park last season as Howe's men finished in 11th place and with the ninth-best home record, bolstered by an often-raucous atmosphere. 

Eddie Howe transformed Newcastle's stuttering 2021-22 Premier League campaign
Eddie Howe transformed Newcastle's stuttering 2021-22 Premier League campaign

They also owned this matchup when the clubs met regularly in the mid-90s with five wins and three draws from the eight Premier League meetings during that decade. 

Forest have taken the spoils on the last two occasions - both in the League Cup - including a 3-2 extra-time victory at St James' Park five years ago. 

Both teams have scored in each of the last five league and cup clashes. 

Prediction

Only the top two outscored Forest in the Championship last term and there's a strong likelihood that the visitors can get on the board against a Magpies outfit that kept just five home clean sheets in 2021-22. 

But Cooper's side developed a habit of not finding a second goal to kill opponents off during the run-in and they will probably need at least two strikes to take all three points on Tyneside. 

Bruno Guimaraes, scorer of three goals in his first five league starts at St James', feeds off the frenzied atmosphere and could be a big danger to Forest's claims of a shock win.

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